Weelicious-LunchesToday I am excited to share a short interview with cookbook author Catherine McCord and her recipe for healthy and homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars from her latest cookbook, Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More Than 160 Happier Meals (William Morrow, September 2013).

Catherine’s cookbook is a treasure trove of practical tips and solutions every parent will appreciate.  Her delicious kid-friendly recipes are great building blocks in teaching and empowering kids (and their parents) to eat healthy and make good decisions about the foods they eat.

Alice:  In your new cookbook you suggest to pack a fruit, vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate in your child’s lunches.  What advice would you give to parents about picky eaters who do not eat the vegetable or protein but just eat only the fruit or carbohydrate?

Catherine: One of the best, easiest ways to inspire picky eaters to try (and like) a variety of foods is to get them involved! Take your child to the grocery and let them pick any fruit or vegetable they want. Show them how to cut it up, eat it and possibly make something with it. The more kids learn about foods, how they work in their bodies and so on, the more willing (and wanting) they will be to try an array of nutritious foods.

Alice:  Do you recommend a general rule of thumb when it comes to portion sizes in lunches?

Catherine: The amount of food you pack for your child should be determined by their height, weight, age and hunger. If your child doesn’t eat a lot one day, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not big eaters. Kids go through so much at school between friends, activities and emotions. As long as you send a balance of foods, then you’ll know you did your job.

Alice: Do you have a favorite lunch box system?

Catherine: I’m a huge fan of Planet Box and Lap Top Lunches bento style lunch boxes. The best part is that once your child opens them up, his entire meal is laid out in front of him. These boxes stay cool, have easy to use carry cases, and can hold re-usable water bottles. I even send my husband to work with one!

Alice: Thanks Catherine!

For more information about Catherine’s new cookbook and her healthy recipes, please visit her sites at:

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 40 min(s)
  • Total Time: 50 min(s)
  • Servings: 30

Headnote: Do you have any idea how much money you spend on granola and/or nutritional bars for your kids each year? Take a minute and add it up. I would bet it’s more than you think. They may be convenient—on those busy mornings when you don’t have time to make breakfast, there’s nothing easier than tossing one bar into your child’s lunch box and another into your purse—but at what cost? About eight years ago, I got so fed up with spending money on granola and nutritional bars that I decided to figure out how to make them myself. I worked so hard at it that I seriously flirted with the idea of starting my own bar business! These Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are unbelievably delicious and, if you wrap and store them individually, just as easy to grab when you’re on the go as the ones you buy at the market (plus, you’ll have no problem pronouncing any of the ingredients in these). The best part? This recipe makes thirty bars and will cost you less than $4.00 to make. If you can’t bear the thought of giving your kids chocolate chips first thing in the morning (my husband always gets tweaked when he sees our kids eating chocolate at 8 a.m.), you can easily replace them with naturally sweet dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, or raisins. Still, if my kids are going to have chocolate, I’d rather it be in the morning than right before they go to bed. Chewy and crunchy with toasted oats and a sweet surprise in every bite, these Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are a must for your lunch box rotation!


    • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
    • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup chocolate chips (or raisins or other dried fruit)
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ cup canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • ½ cup honey


    • Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    • Combine the oats, flour, coconut, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and salt in a large bowl.
    • In a separate bowl, whisk together the canola oil, vanilla, and honey.
    • Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and stir to combine.
    • Spread the granola mixture on the baking sheet and shape it into a 9 x 13-inch rectangle that’s about 1 inch thick.
    • Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and dry to the touch.
    • Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then cut into 3 x 1-inch bars using a serrated knife. These bars will remain fresh for several weeks if
    • wrapped individually in parchment or wax paper.

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